Whether you think you might go the beach, camping, or even just enjoy some relaxing time in your own backyard, you want to double check that you are following any workplace policies or clauses in your collective agreement. These may place restrictions on when you can take your vacation, and what can be done with it if you don’t take it.
The recent Supreme Court of Canada case, United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 503 v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp., on appeal from the Court of Appeal for Quebec, deals with the limit of an employer’s rights during the certification process. This decision may give employers cause to think twice before deciding to close their doors in order to avoid unionization in Canada.
Most human rights tribunals have concluded that the duty to accommodate has both a procedural and a substantive element. The Federal Court of Appeal rejected that conclusion in a recent decision, stating instead that the appropriateness of a standard must be assessed as a matter of substance and not procedure.
For many years, labour arbitrators have interpreted management rights clauses in a purposive rather than a literal manner. This means that most arbitrators have interpreted collective agreements as implicitly authorizing only ‘reasonable’ management action. As one aspect of this approach, arbitrators long ago devised the KVP test to determine when unilateral employer rules or policies are enforceable by discipline. The KVP test is not new; but the Supreme Court has breathed new life into it. Enterprising unions will look for opportunities to apply the KVP test for their members’ benefit.
Employers and unions must work together when an employee with family obligations requests accommodation. In a recent case called Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, the Federal Court of Appeal gave us a clear set of rules to decide when employees have a right to that accommodation and just how far employers and unions must go. Another recent case, Canadian National Railway v. Seeley, addressed accommodation on the grounds of family status in the unionized context.
Three new statutorily protected leaves of absence to protect job security for employees who need to be absent to deal with illness in the family or due to child death or disappearance have been added to the Employment Standards Act. These new leave protections are effective October 29, 2014.
On Thursday April 24, 2014, Senator Bob Runciman announced that he will soon introduce a bill in the Senate that, if passed, will amend the Criminal Code to make the assault of on-duty transit operators an aggravating factor in sentencing. The details of the bill have yet to be released. It appears however, that the bill will seek to implement a comprehensive requirement in order to deter assaults against drivers.
With summer quickly approaching, the Ottawa Catholic School Board’s Workplace Safety Week runs from April 22 to 28, 2014. Through their partnerships with other organizations, information has been posted to help students avoid injuries, understand their rights at work, and become aware of work hazards. Unfortunately, even with the utmost precautions, some adolescents will be injured while working, and should be aware of their entitlement to benefits under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
Building power occupies the minds of most negotiators but seldom do they take (or have) the time to really invest in building what we like to call their ‘equity’ at the table. In the end, having the information at your fingertips will give you confidence in your positions (a critical factor for new negotiators) and you will present yourself as a ‘subject expert’ whether the other side accepts that or not. Making that type of impression on others is the result of your efforts at developing your ‘information’ power base.
We are pleased and excited to introduce Labour of Law, a blog published by the Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP Labour Law Group, which replaces our newsletter. We have earned a reputation as one of the leading labour law firms in Canada, and our lawyers and consultants have extensive experience working with unions in all areas of labour law.